About The Primate

Biographical Highlites – His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian

His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, named Vahram at his baptism, was born on December 1, 1957 in Beirut, Lebanon.

1970: At the age of 13, he attended the theological seminary of the Cilician Catholicosate, in Bik­faya; Lebanon and graduated from the seminary in 1975.

1976: He traveled to Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Armenia to continue his theological studies at the Gevorkian se­minary.

1980: Completed his studies at the Gevorkian seminary and was ordained to the order of a celibate priest by His Holiness Vazgen I, Catholicos of All Armenians, and was renamed Hovnan. In the same year, by the recommendation of His Holiness Vazken I, Very Rev. Father Hovnan went to Oxford University, England, to enhance his studies in the theological field.

1983: Upon graduating from the Oxford Theological School, Very Rev. Father Hovnan obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology. In the same year, he retuned to the Holy See of Etchmiadzin and began teaching the following subjects; Armenian Church History, General Church History and liturgical music. In addition to his teaching assignments, he worked on his doctoral thesis in theology, by comprising an in-depth study on the topic, “Guides to Church Feasts.”

1984: Very Rev. Father Hovnan is elevated to the rank of a Vartaped (Doctor of Theology). During the same year, he was appointed pastor of the Holy Trinity Armenian Church in Toronto, Canada. He served the Toronto community for the following 6 years. With his efforts the Armenian Church Youth Organization of Canada (ACYOC) was reestablished and became an active and vibrant group.

1987: Very Rev. Father organized the consecration of the newly built church, which was conducted by His Holiness Vazken I. In addition, he received a Master’s Degree in Theology from Oxford University. Also, on the occasion of the conferment of the rank of Dzairakuyn Vartaped he presented and published a work entitled “A Practical Manual of Pastoral Theology.”

1990: On May 25-26, during the meeting of Diocesan Delegates held in St. Catharine’s, Ontario, Very Rev. Father Hovnan Derderian was elected Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Canada. On October 7, in the Cathedral of St. Etchmiadzin, he was ordained by His Holiness Vazken I to the level of Bishop.

1993: February 18, His Eminence was elevated to the rank of Archbishop by His Holiness Vazken I.

1995: His Eminence was reelected as primate of the Armenian Church of Canada for his second term.

2000: His Eminence was reelected as Primate of the Armenian Church of Canada for his third term. 

2003: On May 3, His Eminence was elected as the Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America by the 76th Annual Assembly.

2009: On May 1, he was re-elected as the Primate of the Western Dicoese for the second 7 years term by the 82nd Diocesan Annual Assembly.     


On May 3, 2003, His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian was elected as the primate of the Armenian Church of North America Western Diocese by the 76th Annual Assembly.


Establishment of New Committees

Since his election, His Eminence has revitalized the Diocese by reorganizing its structure. He has created several new committees, including the Clergy Recruitment Committee, which focuses on the recruitment and the preparation of well-educated clergy to lead the faithful and the Stewardship committee, established to support educational expenses of Western Diocese clergy candidates and to plant the seeds to ensure that the future stewards and leaders are involved with the church at an early age. Other initiatives include the creation of the Clergy Executive Committee, the Choir Central Committee, the Central Committee for Saturday Schools, and the Christian Education Council for the preparation of Sunday school teachers.

Establishment of New Parishes

Several new parishes have been established to meet the growing spiritual needs of new Armenian communities within the jurisdiction of the Western Diocese. Since 2003, new parishes have been established in the communities of Hawaii, Alaska, Victorville and it surrounding regions, Idaho and the Northern Sierra Region.

Supreme Spiritual Council Meetings

For the first time in the history of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, the Diocesan Council, led by His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, started meeting with the Supreme Spiritual Council in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin Armenia, presided by His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians. These meetings are now regularly held twice a year with the participation of Archbishop Derderian.

Youth Organizations

Under the guidance of His Eminence the following youth organizations were created in 2003: CYMA (Christian Youth Mission to Armenia), BFA (Brighter Future for Armenia) to encourage the youth of the Diocese to support the education of their peers in Hayastan, and the Armenian Alliance for Aid, which will seek to raise funds to ease the suffering of those subjected to modern day genocides.

Establishment of the Diocesan Library

On October 27, 2004, to cultivate and strengthen the cultural awareness of the faithful, the Primate established the Diocesan Aga-Sarkissian Library. His Eminence also created the Tarkmanchats Lsaran, for the general cultural edification of the clergy and the public.

Mother Cathedral Project

The construction project of the Western Diocese Mother Cathedral took new flight with the election of Archbishop Hovnan Derderian. He has worked diligently for the implementation of the Cathedral project by securing new donors and Godfathers, as well as the assignment of two committees, the fundraising and construction committees, to oversee the planning and implementation of the project.


Since 2003 Archbishop Derderian has ordained numerous individuals as Acolytes, Sub-Deacons and Deacons.

Ecumenical Relations

Since the year 2000, His Eminence has been a member of the Southern California Ecumenical Council. At the same time, His Eminence has been a member of the Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches of California and actively participates in Ecumenical and religious leaders’ committees. He is presently the Chair of the Los Angeles Council of Religious Leaders.


Archbishop Hovnan Derderian has authored a number of books and articles on religious themes and personal experiences, which reflect a deep inner life and emphasize the values of spirituality. Under his leadership more than 60 books, booklets, calendars and brochures have been published, both in English and Armenian, including sermons, the Divine Liturgy, and books on the Christian faith and the Armenian Church.